An Ontario school is fighting a human rights complaint over its Christian life centre and relationship with Habitat For Humanity.
In November 2013 – in his second action against the District School Board of Niagara – Rene Chouinard filed an Ontario Human Rights Code complaint arguing the board “continues to exhibit preferences for Protestant Christianity” at its facilities.
Chouinard, an atheist father, signalled out Eden High School in St. Catharines, Ont.
His complaint said the board has “continued to allow other missionary organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, to operate Christian mission activities within its programs.”
The school also has privately funded Spiritual Life Centre, which Eden’s website says provides a “meaningful program to assist in the development and support of Eden’s students through a rich array of life activities.”
That centre describes its mandate as “leading students to learn of Christ and live for Christ.”
A hearing on the complaint was held before a human rights tribunal in St. Catharines on Monday
The tribunal adjourned to rule on the issue of Chouinard’s standing – whether or not he has the right to take the complaint to tribunal. That written decision is expected to be made shortly.
“I have a kid in one of those schools,” Chouinard told QMI Agency after the hearing. .
Chouinard wrote in his complaint the board’s activities exposed him to abuse and “character assassination in the local media and community.”
Among other effects, he alleges are that there has been harm to his three children in that they have perceived Christianity as the norm and “concepts of non-belief were not respected.”
He is seeking $50,000 in compensation from the school board to run a long-term media campaign promoting the validity of secular humanism.
Chouinard is complaining that “concepts of non-belief were not respected.” If he is an atheist, he believes that God does not exist: he has a belief – admittedly, not a particularly rational belief, but a belief nonetheless, so the missing respect does not apply to him. An agnostic can claim “non-belief”, not an atheist.
Canada’s laws and standards of morality have their foundation in a Judeo-Christian understanding of how the created order works. If Chouinard can’t cope with this, he should relocate to a country where atheism is the state religion; he would feel more at home. North Korea comes to mind.